Downtown Kota Kinabalu was drenched. The night was rainy, and citizens of the sleepless city rushed for cover from the heavy downpour. Traffic slowed down and vehicles were moving in snail pace. It was a blessing in disguise despite the disorder, because the city had not been enveloped in drought for two weeks, and the downpour was welcomed by many with open arms.
He did not bother being soaked.
Takeru stood at the edge of the hotel. In his arms was a cello bag and its size almost dwarfed the 160-centimetre-tall boy. He moved closer to the edge and looked down at a restaurant across the road. His eyes squinted, as if he was looking for a person amidst the concentration of visitors in front of the main door.
"Subject wears white dress with blue beret," he whispered, "and accompanied by seven fully armed bodyguards. Subject is to be exterminated by a shot on the heart."
He knelt. He opened the cello bag and took out an M24A2. He assembled the sniper rifle, attached its viewfinder scope, installed the bipod and screwed it silencer onto the barrel. He placed the sniper rifle on the ledge. He eyed on the restaurant through the viewfinder. "Visibility might be affected by the rain," he murmured and plugged the magazine containing five .300 Winchester Magnum cartridges into the loader, "so the probability of getting the first shot is well below 50 percent."
He saw a limousine stopping in front of the restaurant. "Here he comes." He moved the sniper rifle a bit. He adjusted its scope and steadied his pose. "Stay calm," he told himself. "Breathe slowly. Focus on the target. Fire a shot between your breaths."
He eyed on the limousine and saw a person walking out of the vehicle, accompanied by bodyguards and approaching the guest receptionist. "Aim the heart, so even if you miss you may still get other targets." Finger hovering over the trigger, he kept his posture steady and ignored the rain altogether.
He squeezed the trigger.
In less than seconds, a .300 bullet found its way through the barrel, out of the silencer and sped across the air. Takeru watched as the target collapsed and fell lifeless to the floor. Confusion arose and panic later ruptured as the bodyguards made defensive positions and surrounded the downed man; one of them was ordering the recipient to hide inside the building.
"Leave no trace behind."
Takeru pulled the bolt. He fired. Again. He reloaded the rifle. And he repeated it. He viewed through the scope as the bodyguards were shot down almost in sequence. He aimed at the recipient but he missed the head and shot the ankle instead.
"This is not good."
He dismantled the weapon and put it back into the cello bag. He stood up, watched at the chaos below and headed to the rooftop door.
His sub-conscious was telling him he should not take the door. So he hid behind a barricade and withdrew a USP from his sleeve. He, then, heard noises from behind the door, and was shocked to see SWAT team rushing out. "There are five of them. All of them are fully equipped. Chances are I won't be able to outgun them."
He closed his eyes. "I have to do it. I must not leave a trace behind."
He put down the cello bag. He inhaled. Exhaled. Nodded. "Now."
He jumped out of cover. He attacked the squad. One of the operatives fell onto the floor, groaning and holding his severed kneecap. Takeru opened fire and two more operatives were shot on the eyes. He ducked, rolled, and pounced at the other living operatives. He delivered a killing punch onto his kidney and kicked his buddy on the throat. He approached the injured operative and gave him no mercy as he shot a couple of times on the face.
"I have to leave."
He took out a cord. He attached its hook onto a monkey bar. He took the cello case and approached the ledge, looking down the 15-storey building. He backed off several steps behind and prepared to jump.
He turned around and saw police officers surrounding him, weapons aimed at his head. "Lower your weapons! You're surrounded!" He snickered at the command and knelt a bit forward. "Don't do anything stupid! That's an order!"
He glanced at them. He waved a salute. He ran toward the ledge. "Hasta la vista!"
He jumped off the building.
The pulley attached to his belt made a wild noise as it whirled in rapid revolutions. The police peeked over the ledge, unable to fire their weapons at the escapee. He kept descending, not taking care of the pulley that began to fall apart.
He cut the cord. It snapped, and he was now falling freely two storeys to the ground. He landed on a supply truck that shook violently as a result of the crash. He spent no time to waste and jumped off the truck, rolling as he landed on the pavement. He looked around, saw no one and entered the supply room. He knew he would be toast if he stumbled across the police and his current look. So he entered the wardrobe room, changed clothes and walked out in disguise of a musician. Even he added a little bit of flavour to the cello bag by putting stickers on it.
He headed back to the supply truck -- just as police arrived. He stayed calm; they would not take care of his presence, allowing him to slip out relatively unnoticed.
He stopped. A police officer was standing on his way. Damn it, he growled. What do you want?
"Did you see anyone suspicious?" the officer asked.
He looked left and right. He shrugged. "Nope. Nobody's weird today."
"Oh, alright. You're a musician, right?"
He warily nodded. "Umm… yeah. I'm just finished with my show."
"Be careful when you go outside. There was a shooting in front of the hotel just now. We're still looking for the suspect. If you do notice anything, give us a call. Okay?"
"Thanks for the cooperation, kid."
The police officer left and made up with his colleagues. Takeru sighed in relief; it was a close call, and luck could not have been better than this. He left the hotel and hurriedly headed to the shopping complex two blocks away. There, he went to a fast-food restaurant and ordered a dinner set. He took seat next to the window, backing a person who was eating his meal. He corrected his sitting posture and looked all over his drenched self.
"I has cheese," the person suddenly spoke.
"You fail your grammar," Takeru replied.
"Oh really?" the person asked.
"Yes, really," Takeru retorted.
The person cackled. "How's the package?"
"Package has been delivered with 100 success," Takeru informed and ate his meal as it was served. "I'm awaiting another package to deliver."
The person finished his meal. He stood up, approached Takeru's table and put a blue envelope near the plate. "You know what to do," he uttered and left the fast-food restaurant. Takeru glanced at the envelope, shrugged and continued his meal. Occasionally he would look outside the window, watching as the rain continued to fall.
He finished the meal. "Thank you for this meal, God. Amen." He took his time to settle up. After that he took the envelope, holstered the cello bag over his shoulder and left the restaurant to continue his trip. He reached a junction and waited for the traffic to allow him to cross the road.
He threw his sight to the sky. It was not the first time he ever had to kill somebody 'for a living'. He had travelled across the globe and took numerous assignments from influential people to get rid of their enemies. For him, sniping was not just a way to kill people from faraway, and it was a far cry from the ideas of indiscriminate killing. Sniping is a form of art, he remembered a tutorial conducted by his handler, and only in the hand of a sniper can the art be fully understood.
Sure, he was a sniper, and he was revered by his employers as one of the best child assassins ever. His nickname, Silent Bullet, even indicated his sheer knowledge and skill on sniping. Yet he seemed to be missing something. Something that was not a part of his routine, yet so urgently needed. He could only ask himself a question: what was it?
The light turned green. Takeru nodded. He was about to cross the road when the screeching cries of tires caught his attention. He turned around.
Takeru jumped left before an SUV rammed onto him. One of the passengers on the vehicle opened fire. His quick reflex saved him from getting shot and he immediately took shelter behind a car. He withdrew his USP and fired shots at the pickup. The passengers exchanged fires, and in the confusion that followed a ricochet pierced through his shoulder. "Bloody hell? How did they know me through this cover?" Taking no chance to counterattack, added with the fact that he was running out of bullet, he ran away; he was expecting the assailants to chase after him, and they did.
He found a shortcut between the building blocks. He hid, and waited for the SUV to leave. The situation was tense, and the rain did not seem to help lubricating the friction either. He winced in a sudden and held his bleeding shoulder; the injury was intense and he had to squeeze the bullet hole hard to prevent blood loss. He endured the pain and peeked over the wall, noticing that the SUV had left. He did not know whether it was police or local crime gang that attacked him, but the injury he sustained would affect his performance as a sniper.
He resumed the walk. His steps were ungainly and, despite the pressure he was applying, Takeru was losing more blood. He must find somewhere to hide and treat the injury before he was discovered. He followed whenever his feet were leading him to, and soon he found himself standing in front of an old one-storey bungalow. He did not bother ringing the bell or knocking the door and entered the bungalow.
The blood loss was too much for the boy.
He toppled. He wavered, lost balance and crashed on the floor. He did not know whether he was making a lot of noise, but he heard footsteps coming toward him. He turned around so he was lying on his back, and the first thing he saw was a pair of eye staring down at him.
"Are you alright?"
Who… are you?
He blacked out.